THE WESTERN Bulldogs are back on the Good Friday stage, knocking off Essendon for the right to face North Melbourne in 2020.
Three years after playing in the inaugural marquee fixture, the Dogs will return after being replaced by the Bombers and St Kilda in the past two seasons.
R1 FIXTURE REVEAL Blockbuster open, brutal closer
It is understood the Dogs' return to finals football in 2019 contributed to the fixture win.
Roos and Dogs fans flock to the inaugural Good Friday match. Picture: AFL Photos
North Melbourne will retain the right for the slot for the fourth consecutive year, despite a 58-point drubbing against the Bombers in the corresponding fixture in front of 48,278 last year.
JOE DANIHER CUP Wantaway Bomber to face Swans in blockbuster SCG clash
The match will return to Marvel Stadium and be played on April 10 in round four next year in the same twilight timeslot as last season, in line with the Good Friday Appeal raising money for the Royal Children's Hospital.
North players leave the ground after being smashed by Essendon on Good Friday. Picture: AFL Photos
Dogs president Peter Gordon came out swinging following the release of the 2018 fixture, demanding a meeting with the AFL commission over his club's axing from the slot.
The Bombers' win over North Melbourne was played in front of the biggest crowd at the venue since 2017.
Despite being dislodged from Good Friday, the Bombers will still hold play marquee matches against Collingwood on Anzac Day (away) and Dreamtime at the 'G against Richmond (home).
PREVIOUS GOOD FRIDAY ENCOUNTERS
2019: Essendon d North Melbourne, Marvel Stadium. Crowd: 48,278
2018: North Melbourne d St Kilda, Etihad Stadium. Crowd: 33,966
2017: Western Bulldogs d North Melbourne, Etihad Stadium. Crowd: 42,814